Applications of cold atmospheric gas plasmas for microbial decontamination in the food industry

The last 20 years have seen the emergence of a novel technology capable of generating gas plasmas in the open air and at temperatures that are only slightly above ambient. These so-called Cold Atmospheric Plasmas (CAP) have characteristics that render them particularly suitable for a variety of applications in the food industry. In this presentation prevalence will be given to microbial decontamination. In particular, understanding the mechanism of microbial inactivation is important as if the most lethal plasma species can be identified, it may prove possible to ‘tune’ the plasmas so as to maximise their production. Preliminary investigations undertaken by our group have gone some way to addressing this issue. One of the most promising applications of CAP is in the treatment of fresh uncooked foods, and results are presented here attesting to the efficacy of plasmas in inactivating a range of micro-organisms at or near the surface of fruits. The possibilities for using plasmas for destruction of allergens and spongiform encephalopathies are also considered.